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Working in college can be totally stressful! On top of trying to pass classes, maintain some level of social life, prepare for a future career, and learn to be an adult, oftentimes, college students have to hold one or more jobs to stay afloat. I was able to make money in college by doing two specific jobs.
In this post, I’m going to go over how I was able to earn $400 or more per week as a full-time college student, without losing my mind.
Nowadays, what I did is even easier. If you’re in college or are planning to attend, you may find that it’s not as hard as you may think to earn extra cash.
Table of Contents
How I Found Out What I Was Good at In College
It took me more than one try at college to graduate. I first went to a community college in 1999, at age 18, but I was nowhere near ready to take this on. I stumbled around for three semesters, barely passing my classes. While there, I had a tutoring job where I was paid just over minimum wage to help students learn how to use computers.
Can you believe that? College courses taught people how to use a mouse, how to operate a word processor, and how to check their email. In 1999, smartphones weren’t a thing, and many people had no idea how to use a computer.
I took a liking to tutoring. I wanted to tutor computer science, but frankly, I wasn’t good enough. So, I tutored basic computer usage and earned $7.05 an hour doing so. Not a great life.
But what I learned was that I was a damn good tutor and that I wanted to do something with computers.
Taking College Seriously After Failing Out
I failed out of college. I wasn’t good at it and I was still a bratty kid (at 19!) who didn’t know what he wanted out of life. My ex-girlfriend and I went through a rocky breakup, and I eventually just gave up on school and spent a lot of my time staying up all night playing video games and sleeping through the day.
Nearly two years of this went by, and I actually ended up with a social worker/case manager through the state (it was the only way my parents weren’t going to cut me off completely, I’m convinced), and that case manager helped me reapply to a four-year college and transition back to school.
Once back in college, I realized I couldn’t mess around this time and had to get my act together. My parents were willing to pay my tuition and board strictly if I kept my grades up and got a job.
I was to juggle a full-time course load and looked into work as well.
Going To College Can’t Handle A Full-Time Job
I knew I couldn’t work a full-time job AND do full-time schooling. I’d just end up where I was a few years ago – back at home with no education and no job. In 2002, making money online wasn’t as easy as it is now. There was a lot less opportunity for the “average Joe” in college – or so I thought.
Then there was that fateful day on Craigslist of all places where I found the first of two jobs that would get me through college. This first job allowed me to make money in college to the point where I could stop relying on my parents for any amount of money outside the tuition that they assisted me with.
How I Made Money in College as a Software Tester
There was a small company a few towns over called Hudsonsoft. No relationship to the old game company. Hudsonsoft was an outsource tech support and software testing company, ran by a man named Glen, who used to work at Apple.
I was interviewed by Reed, supervisor for the software testers. In the midst of the interview, I was asked to burn a CD. Do you remember burning CDs? I do! Well, something went wrong. An error occurred, so I asked Reed if I should fix the error.
Reed said, “That’s not in my script… um… what would you do?” and I tried not to laugh as I fixed the problem.
Well, that impressed Reed, so he had me meet Glen. Glen and I hit it off immediately. I told him I was a computer science major with a psychology minor. He told me he majored in psychology and minored in computer science when he was younger. Interesting!
The job paid me $15/hr at 15 hours a week during the semester and 25 hours a week between semesters. So, during the semester, this job grossed me $225/week. This was great, but I wanted to get a headstart on my “new adult life,” so I kept going.
How I Made Money in College as a Math Tutor
I had just gotten an 8-hour a week job at the college’s Learning Center as a math tutor. It only paid $8 an hour, but it allowed me to get external clients for math tutoring. My boss had a small budget for every tutor, hence the 8 hour week, but she had no problem with me, sourcing clients, if they specifically asked for me, and my schedule at the Center was booked.
It turns out, a lot of people thought I was a great math tutor, and I ended up charging between $25-$40 per hour for college math tutoring. I did this around 5 hours a week. I even had one client offer me $80 for a once a week one-hour math tutoring session at her house, which lasted for a couple of months.
On average, I think I earned approximately $8 hr times, 8 hours plus $30/hr x 5 hours. A whopping total of nearly $440 for the software testing and tutoring combined, for less than 30 hours a week of work.
Better yet, between semesters, the Learning Center closed, and I still had a full client list for college and high school students, plus my software testing job added 10 hours a week onto my workload. I think I ended up around $585/week between semesters.
Online Jobs For College Students
“Okay, Bo, nice long story there. What’s the point?”
There are other online jobs you can do while at school that I talk about here.
“But, Dave, come on. College is crazy. My girlfriend/boyfriend needs my attention. I don’t have time to do stuff like that.”
You sure bet you have time. You’d better! After college, you’ll have even less time. So, find something you are good at, and make some money in college. It’ll help you pay down student loans faster, and it’ll help you transition into “adult life” easier.
Another great college job that you can do online is write for money. Writing for money can be quite lucrative if you're really good. Check out this post on how to get better at writing for money.
Here’s what I did with the money.
What I Did with the Money
After I graduated, I soon moved out and rented an apartment in the town where I found a new job. My wife and I became engaged shortly after, and she moved in with me, still having a couple of semesters to go to finish college.
You’re probably thinking, “Okay, Mister personal finance guy, did you invest and do all the things you talk about on this blog? What DID you do with the money you made in college?”
Ha, no, I did not. I was pretty bad with money when I was 25. A short time later, I bought a Pontiac G6, which, I might add, was a great car, but a sports car is a terrible investment (read: It’s not an investment at all).
So in the end, I pretty much blew the money on a sports car.
I bet you weren’t expecting that ending!
What SHOULD have I done? At the very least, opened an online savings account and created an emergency fund and money to save to buy my first home, which I ended up doing sometime later.
Related Post: Maximize Your Savings With This Savings Account Guide
Wrapping It Up
I wanted to do something different with this post. If I were to say “there’s a moral to this story” then I guess it is: Work hard when you’re young so that if you make a mistake, it’s not a big deal, and you’ve learned how you can earn it all back.
That sports car cost me a few years’ worth of work, and I got no monetary value out of it. I had a hell of a cool time driving it, though!
If you like this style of post more than my older stuff, let me know. I’m definitely going to experiment with it.
How did you make money in college?